November 21, 2011

Director of Military Judiciary
Major-General Ahmed Abd Allah
Military Judicial Department
Cairo, Egypt
Fax: +202 2 402 4468 / +202 2 411 3452

Military General Attorney
Major-General Medhat Radwan
Military Judicial Department
Cairo, Egypt
+202 2 412 0980 / +202 2 412 0980   

Minister of Defence
His Excellency Muhammad Tantawi
Ministry of Defence
Cairo, Egypt

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to defending freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to reiterate our concern for the ongoing detention of activist and blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad.
According to our information, Maikel Nabil Sanad, better known by his pseudonym Son of Ra, remains detained pending retrial for his critical online comments. The retrial was postponed twice, on November 1 and 13, 2011, due to his refusal to recognize the legitimacy of a military court or accept a court-appointed lawyer, who on November 1 ordered Sanad to be transferred to El-Khanka psychiatric hospital for examination and assessment for 45 days. Sanad’s retrial is now scheduled for November 27. Sanad has reportedly been on hunger strike since August 23, 2011, in protest against his continued detention. He is said to be very weak, and concerns about his well-being are mounting.

Maikel Nabil Sanad was arrested March 28, 2011, and on April 9, 2011, a military tribunal sentenced him to three years in prison for “insulting the military institution, disseminating false news and disturbing public security” for comments made on his blog accusing the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) of anti-democratic practices and perpetuating the corruption of the Mubarak regime. Sanad’s sentence sparked widespread protest against military trials for civilians, and the sentence was overturned on October 12, 2011, reportedly as a result of public pressure.

PEN American Center remains seriously concerned that Maikel Nabil Sanad has been detained in violation of his right to freedom of expression, and are troubled by his deteriorating health. We therefore call for his immediate and unconditional release, and urge authorities to fulfill their obligations to protect freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory.

Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.

Hannah Pakula                                              
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Ambassador Sameh Shoukry
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
3521 International Ct. NW
Washington DC 20008
Fax: (202) 244-4319

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